Despite a win in the Champions League for Real Madrid on Tuesday night, Jose Mourinho’s team are in a right mess in the League. They’ll need a very positive game when they travel to Rayo Vallecano on Sunday night (8.30pm BST, Sept 23).
But that’s the problem with Mourinho’s side this season, it seems impossible to predict which of their teams will turn up on the day.
It could be the team who beat Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup and gave a dominant as well as resilient performance against Manchester City in European competition. Or it could be the team who have looked incredibly poor in all of their league games this season.
Real Madrid have one win in the league so far, but even the 3-0 home win over Granada wasn’t entirely convincing. Maybe Cristiano Ronaldo is affecting the whole squad with his ‘sadness,’ or maybe it is more in-house fighting between Mourinho and the senior Spanish members of the team.
Notably, Sergio Ramos was benched for the game against Man City in midweek. Reports of an argument with Mourinho ahead of the game seemed to be reason enough for Raphael Varane to take over at centre back.
The big worry for Mourinho is his attacking players – the defense doesn’t seem to be too bad.
Gonzalo Higuain needs to plant himself on the bench and have a think about the many opportunities he’s missed over the past few games. It was Karim Benzema who came off the bench against Manchester City and pulled another goal back for Madrid at the Bernabeu. I’d like to see Benzema start over the Argentine international at Rayo this weekend.
The other problem positions are that of Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria. Di Maria was woeful against Sevilla last weekend, somehow managing to avoid an absolute nailed on red card. Ozil just hasn’t looked up to his usual standards in recent games.
Luka Modric should see some game time this weekend, as hopefully Mourinho will see some sense in benching Di Maria along with Higuain. Modric looked lively against Sevilla, coming close to levelling the score with a shot that was pushed onto the post.
Meanwhile, Kaka can’t even get a look in at the side. He’s still a quality player and he can surely add something different to an attack that is clearly running out of ideas. Unfortunately, I’d be surprised to see him play any part.
There is nothing really in the way of injury for Real Madrid. Fabio Coentrao will sit this one out through suspension.
Rayo Vallecano are looking down the barrel of another game with one of the big Madrid teams this weekend.
They gave a good effort last weekend in an attempt to come from four goals down away to Atletico. Their three goals under 10 minutes shouldn’t count for too much, however. Atletico clearly saw that the game was won and more than took their foot of the gas. A lucky escape, but Atletico were comfortably the better of the two sides.
Do I see Rayo getting something from Real this weekend? Not really. Mourinho’s side have been terrible, yes, but I expect them to bounce back in a big way here.
Ronaldo’s goal was one of the highlights in this fixture last season, a cheeky hack heel which went through four Rayo players before hitting the net.
Rayo v Real Madrid Tips & Advice
If Real Madrid slip up in this game then there could be a gap of 11 points between them and Barcelona, provided the Catalans beat Granada on Saturday.